The Joliet Unity Movement was established five years ago by a group of young men with the goal of helping young people locally.
They were concerned about the violence facing the youth of Joliet and decided to help direct their paths through several successful events in the area and the assistance of entrepreneurs, small businesses and volunteers.
“We are proponents of our youth pursuing their education with a sincere commitment to do their best,” according to a news release from the group sent by Joliet resident and activist Amy Sanchez.
In the past, the groups has awarded a $1,000 prize to a child who consistently maintained a 4.0-grade-point average or a straight-A equivalent. They will continue to recognize students in the Joliet area who have achieved honor roll status at their school after every quarter throughout the year.
The group also has hosted events because some families may not have been able to afford programs and school activities. These include annual trips to Brookfield Zoo and White Sox games, a Valentine’s Sweet Heart Dance, trips to the beach and movie nights.
The group’s big event is “815 the Weekend,” the most recent of which was held in August at Nowell Park. It included a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, dance contest, talent show, family kickball game and Double Dutch contest, as well as free food and activities for kids.
The release also mentioned that some of the young people who started with the group five years ago are now in college and still promote or attend Unity events. They also like to recognize those who have made it past high school, such as sharing an article on former Joliet West basketball player Teyvion Kirk, who now plays for and attends Ohio University.
“All of us have a message that stems from the streets,” the press release stated. “We offer a candid look into our lives and communicate how our decisions and experiences shaped us.”
Sanchez said the next big event on the schedule will be a Halloween celebration Oct. 31 at the Spanish Community Center.